US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

Chad P. Bown (PIIE)

February 14, 2020

This post, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information on trade war events, see "Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide."

US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

The February 14, 2020 implementation of the phase one deal between the Trump administration and China establishes new US tariffs on imports from China for the foreseeable future. Average US tariffs on imports from China will remain elevated at 19.3 percent. These tariffs are more than six times higher than before the trade war began in 2018.

Average Chinese tariffs on imports from the United States also remain elevated at an average of 20.3 percent, down only slightly from their average rate of 20.9 percent when the deal was announced on December 13. In keeping with its behavior throughout the trade war, China timed its February 14 tariff cut to coincide with Trump's tariff changes going into effect. China cut in half its additional retaliatory tariff increase of September 1, 2019, just as Trump cut in half his September 2019 tariff increase. Nevertheless, with the continuation of elevated Chinese tariffs, questions remain about how China will live up to the additional $200 billion of purchases of US products over the next two years that are described in the legal agreement signed on January 15, 2020.

The resulting US average tariffs of 19.3 percent remain more than 7 percentage points higher than the same period from one year earlier, when the Trump administration and China were first negotiating a deal under the terms of the 90-day tariff truce established in Buenos Aires in December 2018. That phase of talks broke down in May 2019, and both sides raised their tariffs even further.

Overall, the trade war has proceeded in five stages since early 2018. The first six months of 2018 featured only a moderate increase in tariffs. The months of July through September 2018 resulted in a sharp tariff increase on both sides: US average tariffs increased from 3.8 percent to 12.0 percent, and China's average tariffs increased from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent. In stage three, there was an 8-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. From June to September 2019, another set of tariff increases kicked in. In the current stage five, and despite the phase one agreement, tariffs between the two countries remain elevated and are the new normal.

This chart was adapted from data available in Chad P. Bown's forthcoming blog post, “Tariff worries remain after two years of trade war and despite a phase one deal.”

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